Team Yukon poses for a photo following a pep rally Rotary Park in Whitehorse on Aug. 7 prior to the Western Canada Summer Games in Swift Current, Sask. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Team Yukon holds rally prior to Western Canada Summer Games

“We’re all there and we’re all pretty equal”

Team Yukon athletes, coaches, staff and supporters gathered in Rotary Park on Aug. 7 for a pep rally prior to the Western Canada Summer Games in Swift Current, Sask., from Aug. 9 to 18.

The rally was MCed by Jeane Lassen and included a speech from Minister of Community Services John Streicker.

This year’s team is close to 200 athletes competing in nearly a dozen sports, something Streicker took a moment to contextualize for those in attendance.

The 1999 team was just 47 athletes competing in seven sports, and now the team is nearly four times that size.

“Tonight, we’re over 180 athletes playing in 11 sports,” said Streicker. “It’s amazing.”

Streicker also announced that Cassi Jensen will carry the flag into the opening ceremonies for Team Yukon.

Jensen is one of a very few athletes from the territory competing in two sports. She’ll be competing alongside her teammates on the basketball court in the first week and will stay in Swift Current for week two when she competes on the wrestling mat.

“(I’m) excited,” said Jensen, explaining she found out just five minutes before the rally started.

“My mind was thinking about other things — are we going to get here on time — then that came. It was exciting.”

While these will be her first Western Canada Summer Games, Jensen is no stranger to multi-sport competitions. She competed at the 2018 Arctic Winter Games in Hay River, Northwest Territories, and the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta.

“It can be really overwhelming for certain people or it can be a really big eyeopener,” said Jensen about what it’s like to represent your home at a major games. “We’re all there and we’re all pretty equal. It’s not like you go to a tournament and you could be the oldest — we’re equal and everyone is meant to be there.”

Aside from the competition, Jensen said meeting new people is one of her favourite aspects of being on Team Yukon.

“You get to talk to people from all across Canada, where I would never have that chance any other way,” said Jensen. “I like getting to meet new people. … It’s fun to be able to go and watch different things and cheer on different people.”

Yukoners will be competing in athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, canoe and kayak, cycling, golf, soccer, swimming, triathlon, volleyball and wrestling at the games.

Sports are split between week one and week two of the competition.

During week one, athletes will compete in soccer, canoe and kayak, basketball, beach volleyball, cycling, swimming,

In week two, athletes will compete in athletics, golf, triathlon, volleyball and wrestling.

The Western Canada Games were first held in Regina in 1975 and have been held every four years since.

This year’s games include teams from Alberta, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at

john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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